The Biden administration is expected to fall short in meeting two major coronavirus commitments — hitting a 70 percent vaccination rate by the Fourth of July and shipping 80 million vaccine doses around the world by the end of the month.
The White House said Monday that the doses produced in the US are ready but regulatory and logistical hurdles are hindering the government’s ability to distribute them overseas.
It announced that 60 million shots will be sent via the United Nations-backed COVAX vaccine-sharing alliance and 20 million shots are being directed to specific partners.
But the White House confirmed that fewer than 10 million doses have been shipped, the Associated Press reported.
“What we’ve found to be the biggest challenge is not actually the supply — we have plenty of doses to share with the world — but this is a Herculean logistical challenge,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.
She said the shipments will resume once the countries are prepared to accept delivery and the logistical and language problems are resolved.
“When we work with countries, we need to ensure that there’s safety and regulatory information is shared. Some supply teams need needles, syringes and alcohol pads. Transportation needs teams need to ensure that there are proper temperature storage prep to prevent breakage and ensure the vaccine immediately clears customs. So this has not as you all know been done before. Sometimes it’s even language barriers that occur as we’re working to get these doses out to countries,” she said.
At the same time, the Biden administration is in danger of meeting the goal of getting at least 70 percent of adults by July 4 as the number of shots being given each day continues to drop.
President Biden announced that he wanted to meet that target by the Fourth while also having 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by the same day.
“Now that we have the vaccine supply, we’re focused on convincing even more Americans to show up and get the vaccine that is available to them,” Biden said at the time. “If we succeed in this effort, as we did with the last, then Americans will have taken a serious step towards a return to normal.”
“Based on their current projections, it does not look like the president’s July 4 target of getting 70 percent of the population at least one dose of the vaccine will be met,” Psaki said, despite the use of incentives to encourage people to roll up their sleeves for the shot.
She said as the administration crunches the data, they’re finding that the vaccination rates for people between the ages of 18 and 25 are falling.
“Now regardless, even if we sailed past — even if we do sail past the 70 percent goal, we’re still going to be vaccinating people on July 5, on July 7, on July 10. That is still going to be continued to be part of our objective,” Psaki said.